St. Martinville, Monday April 24

Monday was a cold-ass day! Especially in the morning. My feet and my legs were like ice! Had to sit on the couch for a bit with my legs wrapped in a blanket. By 11 or so we decided to head on out. Having heard about St. Martinville from a few of St. Bernard’s parishioners we headed in that direction. I layered up as best I could to keep the cold at bay. I just can’t get over the difference in temperatures this year compared to the previous two times I’ve been here.

Are you familiar with the poem by William Wordsworth Longfellow, Evangeline? I wasn’t until visiting this part of the country. Longfellow heard of a legend about a displaced Acadian woman spending her life searching for her love after they were separated. The tale is based upon actual historical events: the expulsion of the French speaking Acadians by the British in 1755-1758. The Brits entered towns in the region demanding that Acadians swear allegiance to the British crown. Those who wouldn’t were forced to leave, put on ships and sent to other parts of North America, some returned to France, others escaped to New France (Quebec), and still others to the French colonies in the Caribbean. Many settled in southern Louisiana and came to be known as Cajuns.

There’s a link here to St Matinville! Eventually, Evangeline was reunited with her love Gabriel under a live oak tree in St. Martinville alongside the Bayou Teche.

Along the road by the side of the church and then continuing up to the church and around the other side are markers chronicling the history of the Acadians. As an example:

I’m going to see about finding the Dolores del Rio film.

The French came to south Louisiana territory and settled here as early as 1604 – before the pilgrims of 1620 in Massachusetts, before the English of 1619 in Jamestown. DeSoto and his company are said to be the first Europeans to explore the southern US around 1530. After being relentlessly pursued and attacked by Indians, De Soto died of fever and was given a burial in the Mississippi. The remnants of his party escaped via raft and reached Mexico in 1543.

Leaving St. Martinville we stopped at the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site. Here we enncountered an enthusiastic guide and received a bit of history, as well as a short film which was really forgettable. It’s coming along as a historic site and it seems they’re planting native plants and plan to put in identifying markers. The site includes the Maison Olivier house which you visit on a self guided tour. Maison Olivier was a Creole Plantation, but Monsieur Olivier did not have the good fortune that the family did at Laura Plantation which we visited last year. Still, it’s a good example of a Creole home in a beautiful setting.

Maison Olivier and guest house to the right.
This guest house looks comfortable enough to stay in today!
A more typical Creole cabin for the regular folk.
Interior of Creole cabin

I don’t get tired of visiting historic homes and getting a glimpse into life back then. And comparing it to now. If you were a domestic back before electric and piped in gas, you were pretty much a slave (whether you were an enslaved person or a hired Irish immigrant woman – also a common occurrence) to the stove. Water would have been needed all day every day for cooking, cleaning, baths, laundry. It would have been sooooo hot and humid on top of the natural heat and humidity.

It was an enjoyable and informative visit. There’s also a small museum in the visitor center, worth a look around.

And now, to bed. Beaux reves. (I wish I knew how to make the little hat above the first e in reves… I know it did it earlier.)

3 thoughts on “St. Martinville, Monday April 24

  1. Linnea Hendrickson April 26, 2023 / 10:04 pm

    I grew up with the story of Evangeline— and “ships passing in the night.” If you hold down the ê ( at least on an iPhone or Apple keyboard, a whole row of different éë ē etc appears.


  2. Judy Madewell April 27, 2023 / 4:53 am

    I remember seeing the book Evangeline in my jr. High library. Never read it though. Let me know if you find that film!


  3. john April 27, 2023 / 7:33 am

    Paula, What a beautiful writing to take us along on this historic adventure. Great pics to document the day. Love it. Thanks. John


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